Although young victims
of intentional violence
are commonly cared for in emergency departments, minimal information exists regarding the characteristics of these young people. This study fills that knowledge gap.
The assessment tool was administered on all consenting consecutive victims
of interpersonal violence. A statistical analysis was performed on the data using SPSS to obtain descriptive information, frequencies, correlations, and regressions. The setting was the emergency department of an inner-city level 1 pediatric and adult trauma center with approximately 43,000 visits per year. Patients, aged 10 to 24, who were victims
of interpersonal violence (excluding child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence), were interviewed using an assessment tool to determine their characteristics. The tool was an extensive evaluation questionnaire containing the following constructs: background information, stress, coping skills, parental involvement, peers, delinquency, peer delinquency, future plans, and expectations. The results of this study were compared with national, state, or Chicago area data for the same noted problems.
A total of 188 victims
of interpersonal violence were interviewed. Of those, 82.5% were male; 65.4% were African Americans, and 31.4% were Hispanic. The study showed that 46.8% of the subjects admitted to having carried a hidden weapon in the past, and 28.9% to having attacked someone with a weapon. Forty-one percent witnessed someone being shot or killed in the past year, many in the last year (41.2%). In terms of home environment, 27.7% stated they live with only their mother, 23.4% live with both parents. Over half (51.1%) were members of a gang, and 50.8% had been arrested or detained in the past year. Regarding drug abuse, 75.5% reported using marijuana or hashish, 14.4% used cocaine, and 4.3% used crack during the past year. The study demonstrated that the levels of weapon carrying, fighting, and marijuana and cocaine use were higher in relation to the comparative data, whereas the level of alcohol use was similar.
Young persons who are victims
of interpersonal violence have a high rate of delinquency and drug abuse than nonvictimized youth
. Physicians caring for these youth
need to be cognizant of the special psychosocial issues of these victims